水曜日, 7月 21, 2004


        Last night Takashi, whom I met at a used bookstore in Sannomiya, took me to the Mandarake store in Osaka's Umeda. Mandarake is a chain with other stores in Nakano, Shibuya, Chiba, Nagoya, Namba, Fukuoka, and Shingu, as well as an online store. That store is a trip. Specializing in merchandise of interest to manga and anime fans, it also has some video game memorabilia and a karaoke stage. The Umeda store, not far from Umeda station, used to be a disco. The interior looks like a cave. There are signs at the entrance prohibiting photography inside the store. All the store merchandise is either wrapped in plastic or inside display cases. Some of the employees are dressed in cosplay costumes, and there is a place at the landing of the cavernous stairs where you can vote for your favorite employee cosplay.
       The first floor is full of old books and magazines--most of them manga. Since I'm not really into manga, for better or worse, most of the store merchandise is outside the sphere I can comment on knowledgeably. They have for instance old manga magazines carrying work by such famous names as Osamu Tezuka. I enjoyed going to the Osamu Tezuka museum in nearby Takarazuka, but at Mandarake everything is behind plastic or glass, so cool as it is to see the old magazines I'm not going to buy them just to look inside.
       My quest was to find gamebooks, especially foreign gamebooks translated into Japanese, but they had nothing like that (we asked). I pored through the small section of non-manga books and found some things I liked, though. The only proper gamebook I bought was an old Dragon Quest II one from 1987. I also bought a manga Takashi recommended with good pictures and a disturbing storyline, and a few cheap (100-200 yen each) RPG-related paperbacks. They turned out to be "replays," which Takashi explained is when an RPG runs in a magazine, and fans send in details of how they completed the game, and the most imaginative of the readers' games get published in these books. The format is kind of a dialogue between the gamemaster and the readers/players. Weird. I've never read one and I'm not sure if they're worth reading, but now I have a few of them.
      The clerk at the register was dressed up like an anime nurse. After I paid for my books, we went up the stairs and at the landing there was a form where you could vote for the store employee with the best costume for the day.
       On the second floor, the atmosphere of the store became even more unique. The first thing I noticed was a stage with karaoke equipment, and sure enough as we were shopping a few people (employees and customers) wandered up there to sing mournful renditions of old anime tunes. By the stage there's a "cosplay corner" with sketchy looking Sailor Moon costumes and fake school uniforms. I didn't spend much time looking at these because they kind of gave me the creeps. They had some brightly colored wigs and a booth to try them on if you want. None of the cosplay costumes were very cute or attractive, and something about them made me want to run in the other direction.
       Part of the floor was dedicated to amateur fanzines. Takashi is kind of into those, but I wouldn't even know what to look for. The other side of the floor was more interesting to me, because it was full of full of second-hand toys, games and video game memorabilia. They had a few shelves of old video games--really old games, with some rare RPGs that interested me. I have a super famicon I don't use much so I bought a few of the old super famicon games I wanted to try. My family will be interested to note that I bought a Shonen Ashibe (Goma-chan) Super famicon game. It looks adorable.
       They also had various anime-related collector items. One I noticed was a voice actor's script for a Doraemon episode. There were also plenty of old video game soundtracks, posters and strategy guides, new and old. At this point I noticed some young people who looked like tourists, and I wondered if they had come to Japan for no other purpose than to stock up on anime gear. There was also a store employee who was determined to speak English to me even though I always spoke to him in Japanese. Sometimes I resent the assumption that I even speak English. Takashi thought this guy went overboard too...when I bought my super famicon games he insisted on telling me the price and counting out my change for me in slow, faltering English, even though I had spoken nothing but Japanese to him and I could clearly see the price on the cash register. I wish I could say he was also in some goofy costume, but actually he was dressed normally.
       We had dinner at the vegetarian restaurant in Rokko and when I got home it was late. I'm glad I went, it was fun. The prices were not high so I feel like although I bought a lot I didn't really spend that much money.
If I ever go back I'll check to see if they have any old board games to play with my gaming group. They had one antique board game there yesterday that looked kind of cool, but it was missing some pieces and also it seemed to be a translation of an American game (a travel game I'd never heard of). Otherwise I might have bought it. If I buy an antique board game, I'd rather buy an original Japanese one. So maybe if I check back another time they'll have something cool like that.
       Everyone is lethargic from the oppressive heat, which makes it hard to sleep at night even with the aircon on. I like summer much better than winter, but the weather makes me feel slow. Physically and mentally. Yesterday I went outside and read my book near the vending machine, hoping some of the students would want to practice their English with me, but aside from some hellos it was pretty useless. That's my job. I'll try not to dwell on it too much or I'll get depressed thinking how useless I am here during the summer holidays. Better to just enjoy reading manga and using the Internet, I guess.


  • At 5:52 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    So the all-important issue: did you sing? I've only ever bought a couple of aged posters and a copy of Famicon "Double Dragon" at that place, so I never breached the 2000-yen barrier. My friend Leila bought a Gambit doll (sorry, action figure) and sang something from a cartoon about dragons.

  • At 10:20 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Hell no. Karaoke's not my forte even at a normal venue. What kind of posters did you buy?

  • At 4:39 午後, Anonymous 匿名 said…

    A boy who takes you out to Mandarake? Keep him, keep him!

    (or introduce him to me)

    Is this the boy?

    -- mon

  • At 7:58 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    Some cartoon called "Choujin Locke" that I'd never heard of (but apparently it's my friend's dad's favourite) -- it had a neat design -- and, uh, an Urusei Yatsura poster. For nostalgic value.

  • At 9:12 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Mon - the other guy I told you about is too busy all the time, so I'm at the point of giving up. :( I MIGHT see him in Sept. but I'm not holding my breath. Takashi works at Arima Onsen and seems nice so far. At least he has some days off during the month! And the manga he recommended turned out to be really cool...it's a horror comic by Junji Ito.

    Matt - I won't make fun of you for your poster choices as long as you don't make fun of me! Because I did break the "2000 yen barrier" at that place...



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